In which world do we want to live?

In which world do we want to live?

We need to ask ourselves: in which world do we want to live? Do we want to let the refugees die outside our EU boarders? No, because black lives matter as ours do.

I couldn’t say “I am Charlie Hebdo” because I am also the boy in Gaza or the women in Africa dying every day without the spotlights and media attention put on them. I am all those lives killed in vain by violence, by hunger, by poverty. I don’t feel the ones closer than the others. They aren’t children of a lesser god. We are all the same.

So if we don’t want to let the refugees drown in the sea (0r being tortured and killed by Libyan militias), do we want to let them all inside the EU?

Why not? First, what does it mean “all”? Do you really think it is so nice and easy to leave your country, your language, your family, your raices, your beloved ones? Do you really think we here are so special that everybody wants to be like we are and live like we do here with us? Did you know that already today, 80% of the African refugees and migrants remain within their continent and the majority  of those who leave Africa is going to Middle East and elsewhere but not to Europe?

But OK, let’s assume, 30 millions of Africans want to migrate to the EU over the next 10 years. This is less than 10% of our European population. If we distribute them equally within Europe (in effect, we don’t have a refugee crisis, we have a EU crisis, lack of solidarity with Italy, Greece, Spain), if everybody get’s 10% growth of its population, this would mean Germany would get 8 Mio over the next 10 years. 800.000 per year, the number of people that arrived in 2015/2016. This would mean a huge integration effort, yes. Jobs would have to be shared with the new immigrants, cheaper labor force would be available in our countries until they reach the same language and skill level as ours. But let’s be realistic: A part from the huge administration problems due to our bureaucracy, we absorbed those 800.000 quite well, didn’t we? Or did YOU personally have a problem or disadvantage due to an immigrant? And if so, isn’t it that your local or regional or national government neglected you situation already before? So why do you still vote for the center and right-wing parties instead of voting for those who protect the right of workers, pensions, poor housings, etc.?

Integrating immigrants is nothing special, at the contrary, it is quite normal. At least is was for decades, for centuries. Millions of Germans and Italians emigrated to the US or to Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. Millions of people from the Balkans, from Turkey, Spain and Greece arrived in Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. Millions of Germany migrated within Germany, from East to West, after World War II and after 1989. Society and economy absorbed them. So why is it a problem now? Both sides benefit: Cheap labor for the local industry, a better life not only for those coming but also for their families left behind.

Did you know that already today, the remittences of the African diaspora are more than the EU development aid for Africa? What this means is: allowing legal immigration to Europe would be the far better way to spend money to help Africa because this kind money arrives where it is needed most: directly at the poor families and not at the corrupt goverments.

You are not convinced? OK, if you don’t want to let the immigrants in, but you still don’t want to live in a world where men, women and children are drowning in the sea, we need to help them to make their countries a better places so they aren’t forced to migrate. Yes, this is surely what our European Politicians want to achieve or claim to achieve these days. The problem is, the current approaches by our politicians will not lead us there. They haven’t over the last 60 years, they won’t today because the entire Paradigm is still wrong.

We need a Shift of Paradigm.

No longer should we behave in this world as if it was only belonging to us, “the successful ones”, and not to everybody. No longer should we behave as if we are the better ones and have more rights, only because we are economically wealthier. We must stop thinking that we merit this wealth, that our success is due to our culture or race or because we work so hard or are so democratic by birth. This is racism.

Our economic wealth is based on the poverty of others. This is not a buzzword, but a fact. Look at our history. As a professor from the University of Pretoria put it: “The underdevelopment of Africa is not accidental, it was necessary to develop Europe. The wars in Africa were necessary to have peace in Europe. That legacy did decline, but not disappear. France wanted to get rid of Muhammed Gaddafi who wanted to unite Africa, to be stronger in the international negotiations. Preventing Africa from being an equal member in the international community is preventing the world to offer wealth for all. There was never charity from Europe, although it was said it was donation, it was for constructing their own security. No African country was designed by Africans, it was designed in Berlin, in Europe. We need to make sure that we have governments legitimately elected by the people and working for the people. We have to fight corruption. We have to re-think the European-African partnership”.

We must stop supporting wars in AfricaWe need to stop selling arms. No military intervention any more. No games of throne any more: if we like a dictator we support him, if we don’t like a (maybe even elected) head of state, we bomb him. We must stop bombing head of states that are not willing to do what we want them to do (Irak, Libya, Syria), cynically in the name of “human rights”.

We must stop emptying the international seas in front of Africa. Africans should be put in the position to  manage the fishing industry dominated by our countries instead.  We must stop sending cheap freezes chicken wings to Africa, destroying their local chicken industry. We must not force them to accept our “EPA”, Economic Partnership Agreements, that allow us to fled their markets with our goods. In exchange to give them the chance to export what they want to us. Apart from the fact that they are already allowed to export everything but arms (“EBA”), what the hell should they export? African countries are producing all more or less the same – goods that they were forced to produce during colonialism like coffee, grain and later raw materials for our mobile phones. We must stop to damnify economically African countries.

We must stop talking from government to government only. We need to involve Civil Society on both sides. Money should go to Civil Society movements and not to corrupt regimes. My favorite is to let immigrants work here and let them send their money to their families at home. They all know far better than we our our governments where to invest it for their own benefit.

We must stop corruption. Yes, some of the African regimes are corrupt, but they are corrupted by us, by our industries and indirectly also by our governments, that at the best do nothing against corruption. The current president of Botswana stole millions of Dollars that should have gone to his people, but instead he bought a beautiful villa and yacht in the South of France. Why does the France government allow this? It would be easy to put him on a blacklist and confiscate or freeze his money. The US does this everyday with people “not wanted” by their government: freezing their bank accounts and not letting them into their country.

We must stop all this aid-stuff. 80% of the aid of all governmental organizations remain within the organizations itself or go to people of the wealthy countries. That’s bullshit. Stop it. Let’s rather invest this money here in welcoming immigrants and improving the life of our own economically weak people so they accept immigrants better. And let’s invest a smaller part of it in Civil Society movements that are not-profit-oriented. African representatives told me: Stop sending us money. Keep your money. Transfer technical know how and give us tools to build up and diversify our industries, let us add value to the raw materials we currently sell you. Yes. But that is not in our economic interest. This would mean pay more for goods produced in Africa and get competition to the goods produced here.

During the 200 year old struggle for liberté and equalité we forget about the third value, the fraternité. There is enough in this planet for all, but we need to distribute more equally. This means: less for us, more for the others. Are you ready?

In which world do YOU want to live?

“I am not your negro!”

“I am not your negro!”

After having seen the Oscar film “Moonlight” at the cinema and read the American Classical “Black Boy” by Richard Wright published in 1945 (see my blog from March), I started to investigate further on the situation of colored people (or as Malcolm X put it: “the so-called negroes of America“).

First I went to see a great exhibition, “I Am You” with photographs of the multi-talent Gordon Parks. He is best remembered for his iconic photos of Americans during the 1940s, for his photographic essays for Life magazine, and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft. His essay “a Harlem gang leader” published 1948 in the Life Magazine was one of the best sociological descriptions about young people and their strategies to survive poverty. Gordon Parks was the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures—developing films relating the experience of slaves and struggling black Americans, and creating the “blaxploitation” genre. The poster of the exhibition shows the famous “Doll-Test“: In the 1940s, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark designed and conducted a series of experiments known colloquially as “the doll tests” to study the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children. The Clarks used four dolls, identical except for color, to test children’s racial perceptions. The (colored and white) children between the ages of three to seven, were asked to identify both the race of the dolls and which doll they prefer. A majority of the children (also the colored ones!) preferred the white doll and assigned positive characteristics to it. The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” created a feeling of inferiority among African-American children and damaged their self-esteem. The results of the test and the subsequent public discussion lead to the end of segregation in public schools de jure in 1954, after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. In the decade following Brown, the South resisted enforcement of the Court’s decision. States and school districts did little to reduce segregation, and schools remained almost completely segregated until 1968. Nowadays white racists send their children simply to private schools where the director could decide only to admit white students…

I also browsed through Robert Frank’s book “The Americans”, another important book in the American History of Photography, published 1958 and full of lovely black and white photographs. One of his famous ones is the cover picture that shows the segregation in the bus services: blacks had to sit at the back of the bus and if it was too crowded, then blacks had to leave. Another great and famous picture about segregation is by one of my favorite photographers, Elliot Erwitt; you see a water dispenser, divided in two parts: the bigger one for whites, the smaller one for blacks.

Then I watched I Am Not Your Negro, a 2016 American documentary film directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin‘s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson (in the German version narrated by Samy de Luxe), the film explores the history of racism and violence in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. all three assassinated in the 60ties of the 20th century. “The history of Black Americans is the history of the Americans and it is not a good one”. It is a beautiful film and I was deeply impressed by the last words in the film, that are the very essence of the whole question when he says (click on the link an watch it): “I am not a nigger, I am a man. You invented the idea of negroes and you should ask yourself why. Who thinks that I am an nigger needs one!”.

Deeply impressed by James Baldwin, I read his very important book “The fire next time”, (a quotation from the bible when God speaks to Noah). in the first part, in a letter to his nephew, he explains that after 100 years of freedom from slavery there are still no equal rights for Blacks in the US. In the second part, Baldwin states clearly that the “racial question” is not something that matters only to colored people but that is THE question for the future of the US American society. “The future of colored people in the US is precisely as dark or bright as the future of this country”. What place in society is assigned to Colored? Listen to ho Baldwin expresses this with his own words here.

Last but not least I went to the cinema to watch the documentary “Do Not Resist” written and directed by Craig Atkinson, 2016. This film is an urgent and powerful exploration into the militarization of American police forces. Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the black community and civil rights movement demonstrates asking for justice for Micheal Brown – a black student killed by a policeman with 12 bullets on August 9th, 2014) – this film shows that the difficult relationship between law enforcement and Afro Americans has not changed until today. (Did you know that the predecessors of the today US police are the slave patrols of the Old South that could do whatever they wanted to the slaves but not killing them, as they were the economical asset of their owners?). The film offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America and a glimpse into what it means for the country’s future. You see a weird police training seminar and you get shocked by new technologies including predictive policing algorithms that assign scores to people based on their education and race to forecast how likely it is that this person will commit a crime or even become a murder.